Friday, March 19, 2010

Define "Wrong"

Since I've started losing weight, I've told many people that everything I used to know about food was exactly wrong, but I haven't done a good job of defining what I mean.  The thing is, I thought I had a pretty decent diet, before.  I ate vegetables and fruits.  I liked salad.  I skipped breakfast most days, so I was really eating only two meals.  How could I have been overweight?  It must have been bad genes, right?

Wrong.  The thing is... now that I'm actually mindful of the number of calories in food, I'm horrified by how much I actually used to eat.

Name a restaurant.  Now, think of the highest calorie item on their menu.  That was my favorite.  It doesn't matter which restaurant - even fairly "healthy" ones - ones that have vegetables on the menu...  At Noodles it was the Mushroom Strogranoff with beef.  At Olive Garden it was the Fettuccini Alfredo (you might as well eat THREE of McDonald's Quarter Pounders with Cheese).

Here's a new rule - dishes named after people = bad.  Because the way it probably got that name is someone said, "Wow, did you see that fettuccine that Alfredo ate?  Stand back, because his heart is going to explode!"

But I didn't think I was being that bad!  When I cooked at home I always made a vegetable.  We ate fruit.  But we ate those vegetables and fruits ON TOP OF lots of high carb, high calorie, high fat dishes. 


You have to REPLACE some (most?) of the high carb, high cal, high fat stuff in your life with fruits and vegs if you want to lose weight.

Duh.  Tell me again why this took me 33 years to figure out?

Think of your daily calories as your bank account.  Every bite you eat takes a little bit of your total away.  Your exercise is your credit card - you exercise so that you have a little cushion, a little room to occasionally go over your calories and not get in trouble. 

You can completely lose weight without exercising, just like you can manage your household finances without a credit card.  It's just a little harder.

You'll quickly figure out that while you CAN eat a value meal at McDonald's for lunch and stay under your calories, you'll feel like crap and be hungry and cranky for the rest of the day.  It's self-defeating.  It's much better for you (and everyone around you) if you eat lots of (low cal) fruits and veggies (so you're full) and use higher calorie stuff like meat and cheese and carbs and fats sparingly.  You're fuller, you're getting the nutrients you need so you feel better, and you'll start to lose weight fairly quickly.

The first week sucks.  Put your head down and get through it until your stomach shrinks and you get used to eating less.  You can do it.

The other thing I used to do that was stupid was that I didn't pay attention to the little things, like butter and salad dressing and coffee creamer.  Holy calorie bombs!  I was probably drinking 500 calories worth of coffee per day, before.  DUH!  Now I limit myself to 2 cups of coffee (with 2 tablespoons of creamer in each, for about 100 calories per day).  If I really need the caffeine, I drink it black.  I rarely need the caffeine that badly.  :)

Who is the asshole that decided that it was a good idea to send ranch dressing with pizza?  At 75 calories per tablespoon, dipping your crust or your breadsticks into ranch is basically just adding insult to injury.  PASS!

You have to count everything.  And you have to decide, every time you put something in your mouth, whether or not it's worth it. 

You don't need a book or a diet plan cooked up by some "expert."  A calorie is a calorie is a calorie.

You can still eat cake, ice cream, cookies, crackers, chips - all the stuff you love.  But you have to count it.  Somewhere around January 1, after the holidays, I realized that while I could (and did) still eat that stuff, it really wasn't worth it most days.  Most days I would rather eat broccoli and be full than eat sweets and be hungry.  I still had a (small) piece of cake on Claire's birthday, and it was fine.  I still lost weight that week because I counted it (actually I lost 4 pounds that week, go me!).

My goal is to eventually become intuitive when it comes to food, to be able to accurately guesstimate and not have to write every bite down...  I've gotten worlds better just in 5 months.  But if that never happens, that's ok.  It doesn't really take that much time or effort to write it down (especially with the Livestrong app on my phone!).  And if I have to devote 10 minutes a day to writing things down in order to lose 46 pounds (since 11/15/09!), so be it.  It's a small price to pay!

Go to and put in your height, your weight (your real weight, not your drivers license weight - the higher it is the more calories you get, anyway, so you might as well be honest or you'll be hungry and therefore unsuccessful), and choose "lose one pound a week." 

That's your bank account.  Are you going to spend it on what's going to make you feel good or are you going to spend it on crappy food that makes you feel crappy? 

(For the record, I'm not a doctor or a dietitian or anything, so check with your doctor and this isn't medical advice and blah blah blah disclaimer disclaimer, ok?) 

Today's the day!


Anonymous said...

Amy -

I've been on the straight and narrow for 2 weeks now and I'm -4! It feels so good!! I love livestrong, so thank you so much for the recommendation!

My question is this...what are your go-to lunch meals? I'm doing pretty good staying within my calorie goal, but I've eaten A LOT of Subway over the last 2 weeks and need a bit more variety. :) I don't always have time to pack my own lunch and try to grab lean cuisines, but again, would like to have variety. Just thought I'd see what you've found to be tasty.

Congrats on nearing -50! I'm so looking forward to blazing past -10 and to never.look.back.

Bev said...

Confession...I'm still in procrastinating mode but developing a plan for May 1 which is my first day of retirement and freedom from the stressful, dysfunctional workplace where I have spent way too many 50+ hour weeks sitting at a desk for the past 14 years. Thanks for sharing your story! I've followed your blog for quite a while and have really enjoyed reading all of your posts about your new healthy eating habits because you have implemented the ONLY approach that truly works for life. You are very inspiring to me...thanks ever so much!

Erin said...

I just wanted to tell you that your posts have been so inspiring! I have had a calorie counter app on my phone for 9 months probably, and I finally said, "i'm doing this" 4 weeks ago. I woke up one Sunday morning, went to the gym, and started tracking my calories. I did not weigh myself that day, but had been to the doctor days earlier, so I am using that as my starting weight and today I have lost 15 pounds.

It is fantastic! And I am using the approach of no timeline because I am taking this weight off, and then I am going to maintain the loss. I may not log in my calories for the rest of my life, but I will do it until I know calories and what I can eat/how much like the back of my hand. This is it for me - the rest of my life, I will not battle weight because I will track the scale and know what to do.

so, thanks!